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restaurants: the mac shack

ever since i first heard whisperings on twitter about the mac shack, i’ve been planning a visit.
in fact as one of their first followers, i even earned myself a free meal (sadly, it expired before i could use it)
and as a life long mac & cheese addict, this just seemed like the best restaurant ever.

all they serve pretty much is mac & cheese.
this, my friends, is a magical idea.

i snatched up a groupon for this place that was soon set to expire, so on sunday, my husband and i made the almost 1 hour drive to kerrisdale to chow down.

the upside of this drive is that it allowed time to contemplate the menu offerings and decide on a mac & cheese.
i was happy to see a gluten free option on the menu, but wasn’t sure i was going to order it until i found out what they used… i’m not a massive lover of the rice pasta, which tends to be mushy and corn pasta is pretty good, but can sometimes have a texture issue too.
but then when i arrived, i was rewarded with quinoa pasta. a most excellent choice.

i went with the quinoa pasta with goat cheese and double-smoked bacon added.
my husband decided to stick with a more traditional offering for his first go and ordered the 4 cheese with good old fashioned white flour pasta.

the results were the following:

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and yes, it was as good as it looked.
both dishes had pasta cooked to perfection and velvety cream sauce and enough cheese for add good flavour and gooey goodness, but not enough to make it too heavy.

my bacon was nicely cooked, not crunchy and cooked to all hell.
and the goat cheese on top was lovely.

we ordered the ultimate size, which it says feeds 1-2 people and thats about right.
i got to this point and then packed it up for leftovers.

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and i gotta say, it was even better the next day.
my husband agreed that his was better as well.

so, i paid $21 for my groupon and ended up shelling out an extra $2.48 upon ordering.
we had 2 meals each out of it plus a salad and a boylan’s root beer each.
and also “bread dippers” which i could have definitely lived without, but we were short by $1 to make our groupon value, so we figured, why not.

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fine work mac shack.
i’ll be back most definitely.

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the comfort food chronicles: mac &cheese

ah snow days. is there anything that just makes you want to build a fort on your couch and nest in heaps of blankets like snow days?
not for me anyways. when its cold outside, that’s the hint from mother nature to stay the fuck in.

the past couple days i’ve had some fierce cheese cravings. and not necessarily like i want to eat a block of cheese… more that i want cheesy rich stuff.
i have a sneaking suspicion this is the byproduct of cutting my beloved kraft dinner out of my diet.

i’ve decided i have 3 options.
first, i could eat other packaged gluten free mac & cheese meals…
second, i could poach the cheese packet from a box of kraft dinner and make it with rice pasta…
or third, i can make my own version from scratch.

so, option 1. i bought this a few weeks ago at home sense. it was $5 and i figured, what the heck. the pasta is made with quinoa, which i love… so let’s give it a go.

i have a few notes on it… first and foremost, why this is packaged in a resealable bag is beyond me. this was basically one portion of food (or at least i ate the whole thing – don’t judge me). but that’s just kinda nit picky.

it was pretty decent. really salty tasting, but the pasta was nice and the cheese sauce nice and fake. so i ate it and it did the job on my hangover day.
i’m not sure i’d rush out to buy it again, but i wouldn’t say never. if i saw it on sale, i’d do it.

option 2: poaching the cheese package from a box of KD. ya, this might be the winning option. when you’re craving that awesome fake cheese sauce taste, there’s just no substitute.
i came to the conclusion years ago that it wasn’t necessarily “mac & cheese” that i loved, it was the crack cocaine that is kraft dinner.

which brings me to option 3. making my own from scratch.
for all the kraft dinner i’ve eaten in my life, i’ve maybe only made homemade mac & cheese 4 or 5 times.
generally, i don’t really care for it. it’s often too creamy and too greasy and the pasta is mushy and the cheese is grainy… and ya. i want to like it, but my tastebuds just scream THIS ISN’T KRAFT DINNER!

but damnit, i figured it was worth a go.
i bought a 12 month aged white cheddar from granville island and went from there…

roadblock one – pasta. easy fix; i used rice macaroni. this worked. well. rice pasta can sometimes be gummy and everything about mac & cheese is gummy anyways, so… it works.

roadblock two – the roux. everything delicious and creamy in the sauce world seems to start with a roux. since i’m still new to gluten free cooking, i decided to take the easy way out. i made the sauce and then i added a little cornstarch. i also used a little heavy cream, when normally i would have thickened a 2% milk. not low calorie, but hey… it works.

roadblock three – the crunchy topping. gluten free panko crumbs exist (i’ve seen them at safeway) but they’re expensive and i don’t think they’re mandatory. normally my fix would have been potato chips, but we didn’t have any of those either, so i went with just another layer of cheese. and black pepper. again, it works.

and voila! mac & cheese done gluten free.

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it was very good and my husband certainly dug in with no complaints… but here’s the funny thing… we both agreed that it was better the following day as leftovers. the cheese flavour seemed stronger and the texture was really nice.
also, we ate it with a hearty dose of hot sauce. because you have to with rich dishes.

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in addition to my usual addiction, i’ve been thinking about mac & cheese for a few months because of The Mac Shack that opened in Kerisdale. i was one of their first twitter followers and so they gave me a coupon for a free meal with them, but i forgot about it (and i’m NEVER in kerisdale) so it expired. and i was kicking myself thinking “now i can’t even eat their food”, but then i tweeted them to enquire and they responded with, yes, they do make a gluten free mac & cheese! so i’m back in. and if anyone is in the mood to make the trek, i am SO DOWN.